Monday, January 10, 2005

When Country Wasn't Cool

Harvey at Bad Example had a post recently where he mentioned that he didn't think much of today's country music. He also expressed a respect for the old, traditional country music. I agree.

When I was growing up, the radio station in my hometown was what my parents usually listened to. They mostly played country music. Actually, it was called "country and western." And that was a rather accurate description of it. But the children (including me) didn't really enjoy listening to the "Radio Ranch," as the station called itself.

We listened to the Big Ape in Jacksonville. At the time, it was WAPE, AM 690. Today, it's a talk radio station and an FM station goes by that name today. It's not the same. Back then, the original Big Ape played the stuff we wanted to hear. Want to hear the Beatles? Listen to the Big Ape. The Rolling Stones? Big Ape. Mamas and the Papas? Big Ape. For '60s rock and roll, it was the Big Ape. Want to hear Loretta Lynn? Not the Big Ape. But the Radio Ranch would fill the bill.

In the morning, when we got up to go to school, Mama would have the radio on the local station. She'd listen to local news and the music they played. Personally, I didn't care for most of the music they played. But, I did hear the songs they played. When we were in the car, however, we'd always try to get the radio station changed over to Big Ape. And, much of the time, we succeeded.

Later, when I got my first job, it was at that same radio station. And, sometimes it was me playing Loretta Lynn on the radio. But, most of the time, I got to work on the FM side of the house and got to play stuff I liked.

Fast-forward many years to present-day earth. My wife like country music. I like classic rock. We compromise. Whoever is driving runs the radio. The one not driving will request the volume up or down, but the driver picks the station.

The wife likes country music. Today's country. She also likes the older stuff, but she'll listen to just about anything they play on a country station today. She'll listen to Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and the like. Some of it, I can stomach. But not all of it. I can listen to Garth Brooks' "The Dance." That song is one I actually do like. I means lots of different things to lots of different folks. After my nephew died a couple of years ago, it meant something different to me. Check it out here, if you like. But, most of the country music today, I don't care for.

When I drive the 4-½ hours to my hometown, it's a process of listening to one station after another as the signals grow and fade. Along the way, I can't always find a station playing something I like. There's one spot where all the stations play nothing but country music. There is a bright spot, though. One of the stations play classic country. That's the music like the Radio Ranch used to play. And, I know lots of those songs. I can sing along with Roger Miller's "King of the Road" and "Dang Me." If they play the Statler Brothers' "Flowers on the Wall," I always love Harold's "Kang" part. If you know the song, you know what I'm talking about. If they play Porter Wagner and Dolly Parton ... now there's a couple of big ones.

Anyway, I don't consider myself a fan of country music. But, having heard it since the '60s, and having played it during parts of the '70s, '80s, and '90s, I know a little bit about it. And what they call country music today isn't country music.

If you want to hear country music, turn your radio back about 30 years.

Listed at Beltway Traffic Jam


  1. Big Sis (who's only 5'4")January 10, 2005 at 3:30 PM

    Well, basil, I do like today's country music. I think it's because it DOESN'T sound like the stuff from the Radio Ranch. It sounds more like the stuff I listened to in college...Eagles and such...
    The Mean Sister probably won't post a comment, but I had to tell you she REALLY liked this post. She said she cried when she watched The Dance. We are enjoying reading this blog every day...even if you do make fun of us sometimes.
    I know, I know, you make fun of everyone and everything...we have to stand in line like everyone else...oh, well...
    I STILL think you ought to get in contact with Dave Barry.

  2. But if I became as famous as Dave Barry, do you think they'd try to get Harry Anderson to play me on TV? My choice would be Gene Simmons. Or Richard Simmons. I forget which.

  3. Big Sis (who's only 5'4")January 11, 2005 at 2:50 AM

    Harry Anderson always reminded me of you in your thinner days.
    Actually I think Rick Steves would be a good choice, too. He's a world traveler like you are. He could recreate eating pizza at famous landmarks. And there's something about him that reminds me of you...can't put my finger on it....

  4. Rick Steves--is that the guy from PBS? He's a good choice. Love the post--nuff said.


Please choose a Profile in "Comment as" or sign your name to Anonymous comments. Comment policy